Beer News

News by | Aug 2009 | Issue #31

North Korea Airs Commercial on State-Controlled TV—for Beer

In the poverty-stricken Communist dictatorship of North Korea, capitalist influences are almost as rare as those who actually possess capital. However, on July 3, the country broadcast its first-ever beer commercial on its own (and only) state-run television station.

Advertising Taedonggang beer, the commercial is a two-and-a-half-minute montage of yellow fizz being served to businessmen in bars, lab technicians sipping and nodding their heads in approval, and factory production lines. The footage is accompanied by zippy music, with intermittent text splashes saying things like “unique flavor” and “reminds of the pure and beautiful flow of the Taedongg River.”

In addition to the persuasions of purity and flavor, the beer markets itself as being beneficial to one’s health, with claims that it “reduces stress,” “increases people’s lives” and that it “has a diuretic effect.”

Illustration by Jon Campolo

Illustration by Jon Campolo

The Beer Belly: Don’t Just Blame it on the Alcohol

Just because someone enjoys a moderate amount of beer doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to grow that infamous potbelly—though they will still gain weight, at least according to a study published June 24th in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

An eight-and-a-half-year study of around 20,000 beer-drinking men and women provided researchers with various findings, most notably the fact that an individual’s genetic makeup—not any specific beverage they consume—tells their body where to store any fat gained.

This means someone can end up with a much more pronounced “beer belly” than another who drinks a comparable amount. Though they both gain weight, one person’s genetic makeup is just better suited to even distribution. The study also determined that those who drank more than 1,000 milliliters of beer per day (about 34 fluid ounces) were subject to the biggest gain in waist circumference.

Beer Tastings to Become Legal in North Carolina

Beer advocates love reading detailed descriptions of how a particular beer can exhilarate the palate, but adjectives can only go so far—ultimately, personal enjoyment of a beer comes down to the experience.

Fortunately for people in North Carolina, a recently passed House bill will allow beer tastings to be held in retail locations, effective October 1. Upon final passage of the bill, retailers could pay $100 for a permit to hold a tasting, or a brewer (or vendor) could pay $200 for a permit to offer tastings and sell its product at shopping malls, trade shows and festivals.

This is a welcome opportunity for craft brewers that will help put them on a level playing field with the state’s wine industry, which has enjoyed the privileges of retail tastings for the last eight years. Jamie Bartholomaus, president and brewmaster of N.C.’s Foothills Brewing, explains to BA, “It simply lets breweries have more freedom when it comes to tastings, giving us similar rights to the state’s … wine industry. The special beer-permit situation is an additional benefit that will help raise awareness of [North Carolina] breweries.”

Fits of Road Rage Veer Toward Flying Fish’s Exit Series

Earlier this year, New Jersey-based Flying Fish Brewing Company launched its Exit Series, a series of limited-edition brews named after specific exits along the Jersey Turnpike. With each beer focusing on specific characteristics of the area around its respective exit, it was certainly a novel idea.

Unfortunately, not everybody agreed. The series has drawn the attention of both the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the NJ chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Flying Fish was able to work out a deal with the Turnpike Authority by putting a disclaimer on the Exit Series label and website that states, “The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has no affiliation with the Exit Series. Both the Turnpike Authority and Flying Fish agree that you should never drink and drive.”

However, MADD still disapproves of the concept, saying the mixture of roadways and beer endorses drinking and driving. Flying Fish thanked people for their support via its website, saying, “Fortunately common sense prevailed and we are full speed ahead (on the production line that is).”

Hoosiers Campaigning for Freedom of Choice

For the majority of our nation, picking up a six-pack of cold beer on a lazy Sunday is something that is taken for granted. Indiana residents currently are not allowed that luxury, but grassroots organization Hoosiers for Beverage Choices is on a mission to change that.

Presently, Indiana is one of 15 states that prohibit carry-out alcohol sales on Sundays. Further still, liquor stores are the only carry-out option allowed to sell cold beer. While package stores are closed on Sundays, it is still legal for alcohol to be served at bars, restaurants and sporting events. Matt Norris, director of HBC, tells BA via phone interview, ”You can go out, drink and drive home, yet you can’t go out and pick up a six-pack to enjoy at home while you’re watching the game.”

Since August 2008, HBC has been petitioning to update these laws to (among other things) expand the availability of cold beer to grocery, drug and convenience stores, as well as to allow carry-out sales seven days a week. Norris adds that HBC “is an opportunity to give a voice to the average Indiana consumer that’s inconvenienced by our outdated liquor laws.”